A tubular peyote stitch is one way of making bead snakes. The technique is simple but the results look complicated. The tubular peyote technique allows you to create a 3D body for the snake. You can also increase and decrease this stitch to create the snake's head.
The Tubular Peyote Beading Technique
Size 6, 8, 10 or 11 seed beads will work to make a bead snake using the tubular peyote beading technique. You'll also need a beading needle and waxed beading thread. Two different colours of the same size seed bead will dramatically change the look of the bead snake design.
To begin the tubular peyote stitch, thread the beading needle with about 2 feet of waxed beading thread. There is no need to knot the thread, but you will be stitching with a single strand. If 2 feet of thread is not enough to make the length of bead snake that you'd like, you can add more thread within the piece by tying a surgeon's or overhand knot.
Begin the actual beading stitch by threading an even number of beads to within 4 inches of the end of the thread. All of these beads should be one colour (Color A). You'll be making a circle with the beads which is the beginning of the snake's body; more beads makes a thicker body for the snake. The size of beads that you select will also impact the diameter of the snake's body. To begin the pattern, insert the beading needle around and back through all of the beads. Hold the thread tail firmly before you pull the tread taut to create the circle. After you pull the circle taut, run the beading needle back through several beads on the circle to secure the thread; remember to hold the 4-inch tail thread while you secure the circle. Exit any of the beads on the circle.
Pick up a new bead of a different colour (Color B), skip the bead immediately adjacent to the one where your needle is exiting and insert the needle through the next bead, or the second bead from the needle. When you pull the thread taut, the new bead will rest on top of the beads in the base row. Continue to create the second row of the bead snake by picking up a bead, skipping a bead on the base row and passing the needle through the second bead over from the needle. When you work all the way around the beads on the first row, step up to the second row by inserting the needle through the first different colour bead that you added. To make the second row, pick up a Color A bead and insert the needle through the next Color B bead on the row. When you pull the thread taut, the tubular pattern will begin to form. Continue to work around the second row, picking up an A bead and going through the next B bead. At the end of the row, step up by passing the needle through the first A bead that you added on this row. Begin to pick up B beads and pass through the next A bead for the third row. You can make the bead snake as long as you like by continuing to follow this pattern.
The Snake's Head
The shape of a snake's head increases at the point where the body begins, and then decreases to its mouth. To increase the tubular peyote stitch, pick up three beads rather than one to begin a new row. The first bead you add will be on the next successive row in your design, the second bead will be on the second row of the increase and the third bead will be in the first row of the increase. This means that if you were picking up A beads in the last row of the snake's body, begin the increase by adding beads in a BAB order. Work your way around the last body row with this pattern.
Add a few increase rows to make the fat part of the snake's head, and then decrease the beads to gradually work into a small tube at the snake's snout.